Iniquity (Imperial Black Ale) | Southern Tier Brewing Company

616 Reviews
Iniquity (Imperial Black Ale)Iniquity (Imperial Black Ale)

Brewed by:
Southern Tier Brewing Company
New York, United States

Style: American Black Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by ClockworkOrange on 01-12-2009

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 616 | Ratings: 1,525
Photo of rangerred
4.33/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours pitch black with a thick one finger medium tan head. The head sticks around seemingly forever. There is also nearly a solid wall of lacing on the sides of the glass. Quite impressive.

The aroma has a good deal of pine mixed with hints of alcohol with roast and coffee pulling up the rear. There is an almost minty quality to the aroma that is unique compared to other American Black Ales I have had.

The flavor has bitterness taking hold immediately followed by a little milk chocolate and then roasted malt and dark toast. More mint comes in but is a bit more restrained than in the aroma. Lots of pine from the hops that marries perfectly with the roasted malt which can be hard to do in this style of beer. Mouthfeel is soft and almost chalky finishing a little on the sweet side but it remains restrained.

Overall, this is an excellent beer and one of the best I have had in the style. One to pick up should you come across it.

 973 characters

Photo of MDDMD
4.25/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A-dark brown black color with a nice tan head and good lacing

S-pine, citrus, dark roasted malt, herbal, chocolate

T-citrus, dark roasted malt, pine, chocolate, herbal, hint of sweetness and coffee, moderate bitter finish

F-medium body with moderate carbonation

O-this is one of the best black ales I have had so far, great mix of flavors and nice balance

 359 characters

Photo of fps_dean
4.83/5  rDev +18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

I picked it up in a 22 and did not pour it into a glass, but it appeared to be a dark brown color inside the bottle, so I would not say it is too dark colored.

You can smell the malts and molasses, as well as a citrusy note.

It tastes a little less sweet than it smells. You can taste malts, coffee, caramel, and chocolate, which is balanced nicely with a grapefruit, strong citric hops flavor.

It goes down very smoothly. It's somewhat thick, and moderately carbonated.

Overall, this is a very solid offering, and is one of the best beers I have ever had.

 560 characters

Photo of JoEBoBpr
4.22/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a pint glass from a 22oz bomber.

Pours a nice slightly light brown color. There are some amber hues on the edges of the brew that are faint. There is thin quarter inch head that forms.

Aroma starts off with some intense citrusy notes, pretty pungent. There is also some slight chocolatey notes on the backend mixed in with good dark roasted malt. It is a bit on the light side though. Upon further inspection there is some nice earthy grain notes that help balance the slight pungent hop backed nose.

Flavor is a bit more balanced and yummy. Starts off with grassy and citrus hops. Some grapefruit rind mixed in with some pine. These more hoped backed flavors are mixed in well with some good earthy grain. Nice bready notes that also have a darker roasty notes to them. The back end has some slight oat and cocoa notes to it. The dark malts and piney hops work very well together and make for a very enjoyable and drinkable beer. Mouthfeel is on the medium side maybe even a bit light but there is a nice roasty finish to it with some great piney hop notes and a great bitter finish.

Overall, this brew is quite nice. There is a good dark malt sweetness and roast but the hops shine together with these malty notes. Pretty delicious ABA.

 1,255 characters

Photo of dbrauneis
4.03/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A: Pours a clear very dark amber in color with some garnet red highlights and moderate amounts of visible carbonation. The beer has a finger tall thin sudsy light beige head that quickly reduces to a very thin film covering the majority of the surface of the beer with a thin ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Light to moderate aromas of dark roasted malts with some toffee/caramel malt sweetness (almost like what you would find in a American barleywine). There are moderate amounts of citrus/grapefruit and pine/resin hop aromas as well.

T: Upfront there is a light flavor of dark roasted malts with some toffee/caramel malt sweetness. Underneath the malt sweetness, there is a light to moderte amount of citrus/grapefruit and pine/resin hops. The beer has very light amounts of bitterness which is more than balanced out by the sweetness from the malts.

M: Medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Crisp and slightly oily in the finish.

O: Overall, the beer is pretty well balanced between the malts/hops and sweetness/bitterness but that disappointed me a little bit since I was expecting a little more bitterness due to this being a black IPA. The beer is pretty easy to drink but there are some slight hints of barleywine notes to it.

 1,297 characters

Photo of AC-Mivsek
4.38/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a traditional pint glass.

A- Pours very dark, but not quite black. When held up to the light a reddish-brown shows through. There is a 1 finger off-white head.

S- Molasses, roasted malts, hops poke through a bit. A very appetizing sweetness.

T- Coffee, Caramel, and a hint of licorice. Finish is sweet and sticks around. Very nice.

M- Full bodied, very smooth and velvety. Low carbonation. Drinks like a porter.

O- Extremely well-balanced beer. The roasted malts and hops combine to make a delicious bitter-sweet combination. I love the coffee flavor which breaks through. The 9% ABV is hidden well beneath all the complex flavors. Very well done. I would recommend.

 703 characters

Photo of Gobzilla
3.23/5  rDev -21%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: poured a dark brown in color with yellow highlights and a half finger of head that left some good spotted lacing sticking to the glass.

S: plenty of malty sweetness was noticeable upfront in the aroma, with burnt caramel, signs of hop character kickin it in the background, some roastiness and a little booze heat.

T: roasty chocolate malts were more pronounced on the palate alongside good caramel malty sweetness with a very muted hop profile, subtle booze notes and a little earthy grass flavor.

M: the brew was light to medium in body with a good amount of carbonation which had a sweet, malty, roasty, chocolatey, slightly hoppy and sticky finish.

O: It was just a decent black ale I can't seem to understand the high score it has received in the past. Definitely not my cup of tea.

 794 characters

Photo of exanimo
3.29/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I'm not exactly sure why I want to review this beer, perhaps because I was perplexed as to why 'the bros.' thought this beer deserved a 'world class' score and to create some balance. I guess I'm also in the state of mind to do some reviewing ... perhaps the 9% alcohol in this beer brought it out of me.

The bottle reads a 9/19/12 a birthday of a nice summer day, I don't know what was happening that day, but it was probably a nice one, I reckon. I enjoy seeing these birth dates 'cause I like thinking about what was happening when these beers were crafted. It is also very different to the cold winter day that currently engulfs me.

The Southern Tier bottle is typical of the Southern Tier style, a simple picture splattered with ink around it. They claim the six-pointed star on the bottle represents the goodness and purity found in beer, but I digress:

I pour from the 650 ML bottle into my nonic pint glass (even though the bottle recommends a tulip... BLASPHEMY). Pouring it slowly seemed to reveal little head at first, so I turned the bottle nearly vertical for the rest of the pour. It seems no matter how hard I pour, very little is produced in terms of head, about a finger+ of it that leaves little to no residue along the side of the glass -- how disappointing. The color is typical of a darker beer, not too dark, though, as I can see light passing through it.

The smell seems promising coming from the glass. A bright hop smell with a deep malty finish really contradict the dark color of the beer. It makes me happy seeing as this beer is out to antithesize it's counterpart, unearthly IPA, and make us feel differently about beer.

However, as I pour the beer into my mouth my mind immediately does a double take. Just like most other Southern Tier brews I've had, this one is extremely malty and sweet. Why are those beautiful smells not connecting with my taste buds? Where is the hoppiness? I found this characteristic akin to this beer's 'thesis', Unearthly IPA, as well. As I swallow the beer, a second characteristic arises that bugs me ... the mouth feel. This beer reminds me why beer requires a distinct carbonation, that it seriously lacks. It runs down my throat and mouth like oil, a sickly sweet oil that churns my stomach with a slight alcoholic warmth towards the end.

Tasting it, I can pick up on other flavors, the dark roasted malts, and a slightly piney hop flavor. But honestly, these all seem subdued based on the sweet maltiness of the beer and awful mouth feel. This beer seems so artificial to me ... the sweetness, the lack of carbonation, all of these characteristics take away from the experience of a beer made naturally. This beer makes me think of brewers pumping CO2 and adding artificial non-fermentable sweeteners into their beer. A good beer shouldn't make you think of such things. It seems that most Southern Tier brews make me feel like this, as they tend to be overly sweet (for me) with a slick mouthfeel.

I think that beer should give us a 'fizz', a feeling of content-ness, an appreciation of what we're putting into our body, something to make us think, to bring us to a better place. This beer seriously lacks a fizz for me, both physically and mentally..

 3,225 characters

Photo of BuxMontBeerLover
4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Beer was from the new Southern Tier "SuperPack" variety case. All three beers included are higher ABV brews (2XIPA, Unearthly and Iniquity).

Poured into and enjoyed from a DFH Signature Glass

A - Beer pours a deep brown color. Semi-transparent. A minimal head on the initial pour. A small amount of lacing left after drinking.

S - A slightly hoppy, roasted malt aroma. Slight booze smell.

T - A brew that mixes the citrusy hops and piney resin taste of an IPA with roasted malts and a sweet chocolate-like taste. The end result is a fine tasting beer that gives you a bit of bitterness after each sip. The ABV is noticeable but never ruins the overall balance. Not a session beer at all. Sit back and savor this one.

M - Medium consistency. Medium carbonation.

O - Another winner from Southern Tier. Reminds me of Back in Black but even tastier and more full-bodied. Recommended.


 895 characters

Photo of Suds
4.2/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another great beer from Southern Tier. I'm increasingly impressed with this brewery. This beer is an alcohol bomb, but it is well hidden, other than a deep warming sensation. The color is a rich brown color, very deep, with a thin tan head. The aroma is intense...brown sugar, molasses, burnt grain husks, toasted bread crust, malt, and booze. Not much hop aroma, although there is a bitterness and and a hop bite in the taste. Smooth and warming. Some fruit in the flavor. Lingering, boozy sensation on the tongue. Balanced, drinkable, dangerous, and brilliant.

 562 characters

Photo of BurgeoningBrewhead
4.69/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.75

2nd time having this delicious beer; time to give it a proper review.
Poured bomber into 34oz mug. Deep brown/black that shows brown/ruby in the light. Smell is hops like an IPA, but with a strong malt backbone. Taste is hops at first, but the expected bitter finish is obliterated by malt and sweet chocolate. Finishes wet and sweet and delicious. Alcohol is hidden entirely by the sweetness, as is the hop bitterness that would normally come at the end of a beer that smells like this one. Mouthfeel is creamy without being too heavy. Overall, this beer is a couple different styles, and no style at all. A delicious abomination, as many have said.

 650 characters

Photo of Jparker37
3.89/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber poured into an imperial pint glass.

A - Nice black color, short of opaque. Smaller sized tan head from a pretty vigorous pour. Left a little bit of lacing.

S - Getting a really nice meld of clean biscuit and chocolate malts within a nice hop bouquet. The malt actually stands out here. Hops have a citrus feel with an undertone of pine. Alcohol shows up as the beer warms

T - Shows off an excellent rounded out malt profile. I can get nice caramel malt right away up to some mellow chocolate malt coming in. Piney hops join in the middle of the taste and show off some good flavor and nice bittering qualities. Finishes on a dry note.

M - Medium to medium-full bodied, medium-light carbonation, a little sweet early in the taste but dries up a bit.

O - Great twist on one of my favorite styles. I typically prefer a black IPA that is very hop forward and hide the fact that it is black in color. But this beer reminded me of some great IPAs that can feature a great malt bill inside a hoppy beer. Malt stood up in the smell, in the flavor and in it's mouthfeel. In its flavor it might have been a little to malt forward. Little bit of sweetness was a negative but all around a cool black IPA and an imperial one at that.

 1,238 characters

Photo of jucifer1818
4.62/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

direct labor efficiency variance

Ive had this one before, but decided to review it now that its better in my memory

What can I say? Its a very nice heavier dark ale.

It was nice to drink, and had everything I want from an ale (dark, higher in alchol, and maltier
I cant recommend it enough

 293 characters

Photo of mvanaskie13
4.47/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a standard pint glass, color is dark brown, light amber edging; head is light tan, presents 1/4" thick and then dissipates.

Smell is wonderful, solid roasted malt, dry, not much caramel noted and a solid piney bitterness.

Taste is just as great, tastes like roasted malt and smooth light biscuit malts, with a great hop presence; some licorice type flavor comes through when warming. No strong or overpowering esters to take away from the cleaner flavors - but definitely feel the strength as you drink.

Mouthfeel is surprisingly crisp, light lingering roast and bitter flavors but not cloying or unpleasant.

Overall, wow, nice dark/black ale - great roast presence and smooth flavor presence backed up with tasty but not overpowering hop presence and bitterness.

 779 characters

Photo of schoolboy
4.43/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Iniquity is probably the best, most drinkable beer of this genre. It has a nice darkness but is still translucent. The lacing is perfect. The aroma is sweet and pleasant, but a little weak. The taste is roasty and malty yet hoppy. It is perfectly balanced. The aftertaste and mouthfeel are also perfect.

The brew hides the alcohol well. I want a lot more of this. Another excellent job from Southern Tier.

 406 characters

Photo of VelvetExtract
3.51/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Pours very dark. Looks like a Stout. Light penetration is minimal. Beautiful head. Toasty tan in color. Frothed milk consistency. The head also refuses to falter. Good lace too.

S-Nose is surprisingly light. Clearly not going to be a Black IPA. The muted nose is mostly of burnt coffee grounds and chocolate. Where are the hops? I get a bitter piney hop presence, but there is absolutely zero hop expression. Just bitterness. I am confused but intrigued.

T-Whoa. The flavor is mostly salty and smoky. Bacon and leather. Really chalky too. Bland bitterness via the hops. A burnt/charred brew that is far more Stout/Porter than anything else.

M-Not a huge body. For the ABV, it's rather light. Booze slowly peaks through. Mild carbonation. Decent bitterness. Slow sipper.

O/D-A perplexing brew. I was not a big fan. I enjoyed its individuality. It doesn't suit me well. The large format Souther Tier brews are not my favorite way to spend 8 to 9 dollars.

 958 characters

Photo of BB1313
3.16/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass. Pours a very deep brown with auburn/ruby red hues, huge khaki colored head which fades and leaves nice lacing and retention. The aromas are full of chocolate malts. I can pick up a touch of pine. Very subtle, the hops are barely noticeable in the aromas. I can also pick up a touch of black coffee. The flavors are warm and bitter. The heat from the alcohol is very noticeable, which takes away from the flavors. It has somewhat of a mineral taste as well, almost metallic. Very grainy. There are some fruits noiceable, I'm picking up some orange peel. The hops are clearly dominated by the malts, but it still has a subtle bite. Similar to a chocolate orange, if you can imagine. The mouthfeel is nice, spritzy, but smooth. It's on the lighter side of full-bodied. The alcohol is present, pretty boozy. It's one of those "soapy" beers.

It's been a few years since I've had this one. I remembered enjoying it much more, but this isn't as complex as alot of the big "Black IPAs" coming out these days. Decent big beer, but one note and boring. It's not exactly worth the price of admission, in my opinion.

 1,143 characters

Photo of JohnnyMc
3.5/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Only my second IBA or Black IPA.

Pours out very dark with 2 fingers of off-white head.

The aroma has a lot of roasted malt and a hint of chocolate, but only a hint of earthy hops.

In the taste the hops also take a backseat. This is more malty with some caramel sweetness and toasty notes, but the piney, earthy hops are in the background. Bit of a lighter mouthfeel than I would have liked.

Not a bad beer, but not the best for the style. Seems pretty average, but maybe it was a bad batch or something.

 507 characters

Photo of One2Remeber
4.03/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Lacy, frothy leather/tan head. As dark brown as you can get without being black.

S: Burnt, sweet honey malts. Powder, chalky chocolate. Citrus hops.

T/M: Gummy, soft body. Tons of piney, slightly resinous, citrus hops. Chalky chocolate coats the pallet.

O: Great example of a Black IPA. The smooth, fluffy body of a stout with the full-hop flavored hop presence.

 370 characters

Photo of oriolesfan4
3.28/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Had high hopes for this beer, didn't exactly live up to the lofty standards. Being a rare, albeit one of my favorite, styles, I was expecting a nice smoky, charred hoppy taste. The hops are there.. but also just a cloying sweetness and not enough balance for my liking. Not a bad beer by any means, and probably above average, but if I'm spending $7 on a bomber I want superb taste with complexity and balance... and I didn't feel I got that with this one... also, too much of a boozy aftertaste, even for the high ABV.

 519 characters

Photo of thedoubler55
4.08/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Dark Brown almost black color, a nice two finger tan head at the top that left a slight lacing around the glass.

S: Wood, chocolate, coffee, malts, and bit of hops but very small note.

T: A nice smokey taste up front but nothing crazy, the hops are present but they are not overbearing, a good mixture of the nose.

M: Medium bodied, and slight carbonation. Good stickyness.

O:A very well balanced brew, Loved this beer very unique and tasted great.

 456 characters

Photo of LiquidAmber
4.12/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Review from 5/2010 notes. Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours dark red brown with wispy light tan head and lacing. Sweet and roasted malt and hops aroma. Citrus fruits, sweet and roasted malt and chocolate up front. Malty, dark fruit middle and hoppy, roasted malt finish. Medium bodied. Nicely made and enjoyable.

 318 characters

Photo of FatBoyGotSwagger
4.38/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Perfect Pint glass.

Appearance: Dark black but it is possible for light to get through the pint producing a deep amber color when held to the light. A one cm creamy white head fades shortly after pouring.

Smell: There are many things going on here. Initially when poured at fridge temp the smell is of a toasty citrus. As it warms roasted malts and coffee make appearances.

Taste: Upfront it hits you like an imperial stout with some coffee and hops. After a few sips it becomes apparent that the body is lighter and quite fitting for a black ale. When the beer warms the coffee and hops shine brighter and the roasted malt comes through. The best part about the taste is that not one of the elements are overpowering or offensive. The hops are balanced and everything else is spot on.

Mouth feel: Creamy and enjoyable. It tastes big and goes down smooth.

Overall: This is a fantastic imperial black ale; That I would recommend to anybody who enjoys dark beers. Good call by Southern Tier putting this beauty in regular bottles.

 1,068 characters

Photo of jettjon
4.47/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From a 22 oz bomber, moderately vigorous pour into a goblet yields very little carbonation. Five minutes later, only a scattered archipelago of lacing remains atop an inky sea of blackness. Color is pretty much pitch black other than when held directly to the light at which point a tiny sliver of chestnut peeks through the murk. Large, clumpy bubbles occasionally erupt from the depths like pockets of methane from beneath the blackest bog. Sweet, slightly boozy nose evinces scents of cocoa, dark fruit and sweet banana taffy. Coffee beans and black licorice dance in the background. In the mouth, it’s surprisingly thick and smooth, with fine carbonation tickling on the way down. Malt and hops engage in epic battle with the hops prevailing at the end, pummeling the malt into submission with a dry bitterness like coffee grounds. The flavor is intense and difficult to decipher; there is a definite pervasive coffee-like bitterness, but Belgian-ale characteristic flavors such as cherries and raisins struggle to assert themselves only to be overwhelmed by a tide of caustic black hatred.

Overall: Now THIS is a big beer done well. Never overly pretentious, it walks a perilously thin line between a hopped-up IPA and a refined Belgian strong dark ale or quadrupel. This dance could have gone so wrong in so many ways, but it works. Flavors are perfectly balanced with every sip bringing new appreciation for the subtle complexity containing within the murky depths.

 1,476 characters

Photo of CloudStrife
4.14/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter. Love the new super packs.

A: Pours a very dark brownish ruby appearing black in the glass. Head fizzles away in a few seconds leaving nothing on the top.

S: Can get strong coffee and chocolate but also a great citrus hop backing. Some sweet fruit and a hint of alcohol. Very interesting aroma that is enjoyable.

T: Starts with dark chocolate, coffee and roasted malt. Strong hop profile kicks in giving it some serious bitterness. Lingering hop in the end too.

M: Light on the pallet with mild carbonation. Feels a little oily and watery but that also seems just right for some reason. Pretty darn drinkable for 9%.

Overall a very interesting beer that is certainly worth trying. Have gotten a few times and not been let down. Liking the new 12oz bottle to make this easier to enjoy.

 827 characters

Iniquity (Imperial Black Ale) from Southern Tier Brewing Company
4.09 out of 5 based on 1,525 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.